US Fast Food Strikes

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US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri May 17, 2013 4:39 am UTC

Fast Food Strikes Hitting Fifth City: Milwaukee

Hundreds of Milwaukee workers plan to walk off the job starting at 6 Central Time this morning, launching the nation’s fifth fast food workers’ strike in six weeks. Today’s work stoppage follows strikes in St. Louis and Detroit last week, and in New York and Chicago last month. In each case, workers are demanding a raise to $15 per hour, and the right to form a union without intimidation.

“I’m so amped up and ready,” Milwaukee McDonald’s employee Stephanie Sanders told The Nation last night. Sanders, a 33-year-old who recently returning to working at McDonald’s following a stretch in retail, said that she would be striking “basically to help my generation out, and the next generation to follow.” Along with low wages and the lack of job security, Sanders said she wanted to do something about punitive management: “Just because you have on a blue shirt doesn’t mean you’re better than me.”

As I’ve reported, these recent work stoppages share several common characteristics: Each is a one-day strike by fast food workers, backed by a coalition of unions and community groups, targeting major companies throughout the industry and mobilizing a minority of the workforce in hopes of building broader support. While different local organizations have been involved in each city’s actions, the Service Employees International Union has played a significant role in all of them.

The campaign expects today’s strikes to involve workers from fast food chains including McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell. Like Chicago’s, the Milwaukee strike involves retail as well as fast food: workers from companies including TJ Maxx, Dollar Tree and Footaction plan to strike. Both industries are increasingly prevalent in—and representative of—the US economy, and both are overwhelmingly non-union.
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The spread of the fast food strikes, and of strikes by non-union workers in the Walmart supply chain, comes amid a multi-decade decline in US strikes, fueled in part by legal and economic changes that have made them more risky and less effective. According to the campaigns, recent fast food strikers have so far generally not been punished for it, a result that some activists chalk up to community pressure and media scrutiny rather than to legal protection. Sanders said that, while she initially worried that management would retaliate against her if she struck, organizers “told me that we have the legal right to at least take one day” over their grievances.

How great is the risk? Under US law, it’s generally illegal to “fire” workers for going on strike, but legal to “permanently replace” them—effectively terminating them by refusing to let them come back to work following the strike. Prior to striking, fast food workers in other cities have filed “Unfair Labor Practice” charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging law-breaking by management, which potentially protects them from being “permanently replaced.” Epps-Addison said last night that such charges so far had not been filed in Milwaukee (see update below). But the one-day duration of the strikes does reduce the risk: Interviewed last October, former NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman said that a company generally would not have legal grounds to “permanently replace” strikers who had already pledged to return to work the next day.

However, pro-labor activists and academics have long argued that the lengthy process for pursuing claims of retaliation, and the limited penalties available, make the law a very weak deterrent against union-busting. Unions have recently accused Republicans who blocked Obama NLRB appointees, and judges who threw out NLRB actions, of further compromising labor law enforcement. (On a Tuesday media call, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the DC Circuit “a circuit court gone wild.”)

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When a New York City Wendy’s worker was initially denied the chance to return to work following the first of the fast food strikes, rather than filing charges with the government, local, political and religious leaders occupied and picketed the store until management relented and returned her to work. Epps-Addison said that she and other Milwaukee activists are similarly ready to take direct action if any companies crack down on strikers: “I’ve committed myself to going to that store, and sitting down in that store, and refusing to leave until the workers are protected.” Sanders predicted that McDonald’s would not retaliate, because “I don’t think they want the repercussions of what may happen” if they did.
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$15/hr is an unrealistic demand, but I figure the real goal is the formation of (a) union(s) and I think that would be a very good thing for service employees in this country.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Derek » Fri May 17, 2013 5:12 am UTC

Fast food work is basically as low on the jobs totem pole as you can get. They're already getting overpaid thanks to minimum wage laws, and they are extremely easily replaced.

Yeah, this isn't going anywhere.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Angua » Fri May 17, 2013 6:25 am UTC

You think minimum wage is being overpaid?

The US attitude to unions has always puzzled me somewhat - I get that they can go down the wrong road with being over political, but they are more likely to care about the workers than the company. Differences in culture history though.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby yurell » Fri May 17, 2013 6:41 am UTC

$15/hr doesn't seem particularly unrealistic to me; I certainly wouldn't work for any less than that.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Fire Brns » Fri May 17, 2013 6:43 am UTC

I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.

Angua wrote:You think minimum wage is being overpaid?
Minimum wage for an entry level job with absolutely no special skills required. Yes. Minimum wage is a stepping stone to the working world. Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage; it is intended for part time jobs for teens still in high school, it is intended for unskilled labor, and it is not intended for career positions. Minimum wage however is ridiculously high enough in some areas that a company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later. Recently I got 150 bucks at 8 bucks an hour training for a job virtually anyone can do.

I have expenses, bills, and I'm saving for college I have no money. I understand the being in a crapsack position with no recognition. Unlike the striking people however, I was grateful for the job in this economic climate rather than complain that I'm a special snowflake that doesn't get enough throwaway money.

The 33 y/old quoted irked me the most. The blue shirt does mean they are better than you, especially since you are 33 and working an entry level job in McDonalds. They are payed to be better than you and you are payed to be worse than them, that's how management works. You don't deserve anything more than what you contractually agreed to and you agreed to minimum wage plus any raises they decide to give you based on work performance. The economy sucks I get it, but you are just being selfish because you want more money without demonstrating a unique or valuable skill. It isn't some social crusade to help future generations.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Angua » Fri May 17, 2013 6:57 am UTC

Minimum wage is intended to stop people from being exploited by companies that hold the power over them, which from what I can tell the companies in the US already have ridiculous amounts of power (like the ability to fire someone at will with no notice for any reason which isn't legally protected). Minimum wage is not ridiculously high (and is under the living wage).
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri May 17, 2013 7:41 am UTC

yurell wrote:$15/hr doesn't seem particularly unrealistic to me; I certainly wouldn't work for any less than that.


You are not me. I've only ever been paid more than that once, in a temporary position for an entertainer. In fact, an unskilled worker in the US couldn't find many positions at that rate unless it's sales with commission, hazard pay, or a government job. White collar jobs generally excluded, though $15/hr definitely isn't a starting wage without a degree or a lot of experience.

Yeah, it's not great working in the US.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby yurell » Fri May 17, 2013 8:12 am UTC

I don't have an intuitive grasp on US pay scales; $15 USD is approximately minimum adult wage here. I don't know what $15 USD is in AUD once adjusted for PPP.

Edit: Okay, that's about $23/hr if I can use the GDP (nominal) and GDP (PPP) as a rough conversion tool. That's pretty high for unskilled fast food workers, but surely the more senior staff (managers and experienced/trained employees) should be getting roughly that?
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby rieschen » Fri May 17, 2013 8:32 am UTC

company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later


It seems to me that if a company can't for the most part keep an employee from walking after a week, the problem here is not with the cost of training; it's with the company not offering an attractive job. McDonalds for example locks people down in Germany by offering them to finance a half-work half-study business degree if they qualify for university when they are hired, and are willing to commit to a long contract.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Princess Marzipan » Fri May 17, 2013 11:15 am UTC

I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.
So...a dollar menu is more important to you than millions of people being able to support themselves with their job?


Angua wrote:You think minimum wage is being overpaid?
Minimum wage for an entry level job with absolutely no special skills required. Yes. Minimum wage is a stepping stone to the working world. Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage; it is intended for part time jobs for teens still in high school, it is intended for unskilled labor, and it is not intended for career positions. Minimum wage however is ridiculously high enough in some areas that a company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later. Recently I got 150 bucks at 8 bucks an hour training for a job virtually anyone can do.
Wait, so which is it? Is it "SOMEbody has to mop the floors and flip the burgers," or is it "minimum wage is intended for unskilled non-career positions?" What about people stuck in a career of mopping floors and flipping burgers?

I have expenses, bills, and I'm saving for college I have no money. I understand the being in a crapsack position with no recognition. Unlike the striking people however, I was grateful for the job in this economic climate rather than complain that I'm a special snowflake that doesn't get enough throwaway money.
Just because you were grateful for and willing to settle for a shitty job, that is not a justification for telling other people that their job needs to stay shitty.

The 33 y/old quoted irked me the most. The blue shirt does mean they are better than you, especially since you are 33 and working an entry level job in McDonalds. They are payed to be better than you and you are payed to be worse than them, that's how management works./quote]
That's...no, that's NOT how management works. Management works by managers inspiring their team to get the best work possible out of them, and meet this or that goal. Management is paid to lead, not to be better than. Show me a manager who gets their way by being a hardass 100% of the time, and I'll show you a *terrible manager.*

You don't deserve anything more than what you contractually agreed to and you agreed to minimum wage plus any raises they decide to give you based on work performance. The economy sucks I get it, but you are just being selfish because you want more money without demonstrating a unique or valuable skill. It isn't some social crusade to help future generations.
Of course it's selfish. They want their own circumstances improved. I fail to see how this any more or less selfish, however, than your steadfast insistence upon $1 shitty burgers.
They're on a crusade because they know how shitty the jobs are and they want a fighting chance at life for themselves *and* their current and future colleagues. You're a crusade for $1 savings paid for by sore feet, greased-up pores, and bruised souls. Who's the selfish one here? (It's you.)
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Angua » Fri May 17, 2013 11:37 am UTC

Thank you, PM, for putting everything else that I wanted to say this morning into words, but was too tired/time pressured to say.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 17, 2013 12:00 pm UTC

The point that raising minimum wage decreases the likelihood of hiring these entry level positions is valid.
Princess Marzipan wrote:Wait, so which is it? Is it "SOMEbody has to mop the floors and flip the burgers," or is it "minimum wage is intended for unskilled non-career positions?" What about people stuck in a career of mopping floors and flipping burgers?
Respectfully, do you know what the turn over is for these positions? I'm sure there are those who must make a career out of flipping burgers and mopping floors, but the majority of employees who fill these jobs are doing so on a temporary basis. By increasing minimum wage, you certainly help the former, but make it quite a bit more difficult for the latter to ever find this sort of employment.

Fire Brns is right in some respect; raising minimum wage does not actually help most poor laborers, because it simply raises the barrier to getting the job. A more tactful approach to helping those who must make a career out of it is necessary; maybe having their pay scale with how long they stay on? Easy to see how that would fail though.
Edit; just googled around a bit, evidently the tie to unemployment is not well established. I'll read more before responding to anything.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby CorruptUser » Fri May 17, 2013 12:23 pm UTC

At $15/hr, their jobs will be replaced by robots.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby morriswalters » Fri May 17, 2013 1:10 pm UTC

[sarcasm]And the price of burgers will go up. Prices always go up. Ah progress. If robots can flip burgers and can be brought to bear on those types of jobs then it is only a matter of time before they move into others. As an added side benefit once the whole restaurant is automated you no longer need franchisees to manage them. McDonalds can just plop them on corners with helicopters and mint even more profits. Why, given the progress in automation, what couldn't they do? No pilots on airplanes(another thread), no burger flippers, of course why have waiters and waitresses? Or bartenders? Is there some skill in those positions? And no tipping, no more tip calculators needed. Robots learn to work on each other. So we don't need repairmen. So lets recap. We develop AI. Robots learn how to do everything, including making more robots. Labor is no longer needed. Burger prices drop to zero. No demand because no one has any money. Since they don't have any money, they can't eat. Since they can't eat they starve. Human race goes extinct. Minimum wage no longer and issue. That will work.[/sarcasm]

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Tirian » Fri May 17, 2013 1:21 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Respectfully, do you know what the turn over is for these positions? I'm sure there are those who must make a career out of flipping burgers and mopping floors, but the majority of employees who fill these jobs are doing so on a temporary basis.


The other question is whether someone who has been flipping burgers for ten years is bringing sufficient added value to the job that the employer would feel compelled for pay more for it. The key word here is that this is _unskilled_ labor -- after a month, you're not going to get significantly better at the job that you were hired to do, so any raises you get after that are just trying to put off the hassle of training your eventual replacement. If you have worked at McDonalds long enough to understand every facet of the operation, then enter the management program and then your new job responsibilities will be worth a higher wage.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby philsov » Fri May 17, 2013 1:24 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:And the price of burgers will go up. Prices always go up. Ah progress. If robots can flip burgers and can be brought to bear on those types of jobs then it is only a matter of time before they move into others. As an added side benefit once the whole restaurant is automated you no longer need franchisees to manage them. McDonalds can just plop them on corners with helicopters and mint even more profits. Why, given the progress in automation, what couldn't they do? No pilots on airplanes(another thread), no burger flippers, of course why have waiters and waitresses? Or bartenders? Is there some skill in those positions? And no tipping, no more tip calculators needed. Robots learn to work on each other. So we don't need repairmen. So lets recap. We develop AI. Robots learn how to do everything, including making more robots. Labor is no longer needed. Burger prices drop to zero. No demand because no one has any money. Since they don't have any money, they can't eat. Since they can't eat they starve. Human race goes extinct. Minimum wage no longer and issue. That will work.


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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Red Hal » Fri May 17, 2013 1:48 pm UTC

Y'see there's the nub of the issue. Raising the minimum wage won't make the barrier to entry higher; someone will still be needed to flip those burgers (nascent boom in automated burger-flipping notwithstanding) and mop those floors. The company either does it or doesn't produce burgers. There is a demand for burger-flippers because without them the company cannot sell burgers.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri May 17, 2013 2:11 pm UTC

This isn't raising the minimum wage. This is a group of workers striking in an effort to get better wages / benefits from a company that they're working for. I don't think there's anything wrong in that in of itself: people should strike and take advantage of their power to pressure employers when they feel that they're treated unfairly. So as bad as "minimum wage" is for capitalist markets, what is going on here is very far away from that. These are two parties trying to settle a dispute, which is good for the market.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby emceng » Fri May 17, 2013 2:46 pm UTC

Angua wrote:You think minimum wage is being overpaid?

The US attitude to unions has always puzzled me somewhat - I get that they can go down the wrong road with being over political, but they are more likely to care about the workers than the company. Differences in culture history though.


The issue I see with unions is this - they are many times unreasonable when it comes to even the most basic issues that might infringe on their workers or jobs. Can't fire teachers that are terrible because of union contracts. Can't fire someone for being incompetent, or smoking pot, or other easily fireable offenses, because of union contracts. Can't adequately discipline police officers due to union pressure and review boards. Can't have somebody plug in a fucking power strip, because 'that's a union job'. The last one is from personal experience.

They also seem to be incompetent in other areas. The NWA unions let Northwest borrow millions from their pension plan, that was then never paid back. It was idiotic move, and I don't see how they ever thought it was a good idea.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Derek » Fri May 17, 2013 3:18 pm UTC

Red Hal wrote:Y'see there's the nub of the issue. Raising the minimum wage won't make the barrier to entry higher; someone will still be needed to flip those burgers (nascent boom in automated burger-flipping notwithstanding) and mop those floors. The company either does it or doesn't produce burgers. There is a demand for burger-flippers because without them the company cannot sell burgers.

False. They can stay open less (6 am to 10 pm instead of 24/7), they can have less people manning registers, they can have less people making food, they can mop the floors less often. There are lots of ways they can cut down on workers.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Enokh » Fri May 17, 2013 5:46 pm UTC

Well, based on how much noise the "CEO of Chik-Fil-A doesn't like Gays" thing made, I'll assume that this will go someplace solely based off of the idea that nothing gets we Americans fired up like messing with our fast food.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby CorruptUser » Fri May 17, 2013 5:58 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:This isn't raising the minimum price. This is a group of companies setting prices in an effort to get better revenues from the market that they're selling in. I don't think there's anything wrong in that in of itself: companies should take advantage of their power to pressure people when they feel that they're treated unfairly. So as bad as price floors are for capitalist markets, what is going on here is very far away from that. These are two parties trying to settle a dispute, which is good for the market.



I don't see unions, at their core, as being any different than cartels. However, unions are necessary because time and again the employers have shown their willingness to abuse their position and conspire to set wages artificially low or cut back on safety when someone else has to bear the burden. That does not mean unions are 'good', just 'better than the alternative'.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby engr » Fri May 17, 2013 6:11 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Fire Brns is right in some respect; raising minimum wage does not actually help most poor laborers, because it simply raises the barrier to getting the job. A more tactful approach to helping those who must make a career out of it is necessary; maybe having their pay scale with how long they stay on? Easy to see how that would fail though.


Relevant:
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Even more interestingly, the whole reason minimum wage appeared in the US was to "protect" white workers from competition from black workers.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Enokh » Fri May 17, 2013 6:32 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:This isn't raising the minimum price. This is a group of companies setting prices in an effort to get better revenues from the market that they're selling in. I don't think there's anything wrong in that in of itself: companies should take advantage of their power to pressure people when they feel that they're treated unfairly. So as bad as price floors are for capitalist markets, what is going on here is very far away from that. These are two parties trying to settle a dispute, which is good for the market.



I don't see unions, at their core, as being any different than cartels. However, unions are necessary because time and again the employers have shown their willingness to abuse their position and conspire to set wages artificially low or cut back on safety when someone else has to bear the burden. That does not mean unions are 'good', just 'better than the alternative'.


I don't see unions being any different than corporations. They're a bunch of people who got together and are selling something (their time/labor/whatever). Corporations hating on unions are just them getting jealous of someone else playing their game too.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby CorruptUser » Fri May 17, 2013 6:52 pm UTC

Pretty much. They are mirror images, and neither should be allowed to be much more powerful than the other. 100 restaraunts getting together to set the price of steak is bad. UAW unionizing the entire automotive industry rather than just each company is just as bad.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri May 17, 2013 7:26 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:$15/hr is an unrealistic demand, but I figure the real goal is the formation of (a) union(s) and I think that would be a very good thing for service employees in this country.


Unions are a reasonable goal indeed, but striking should not be required in order to form a union. In addition, a union for the purpose of wage increases is unlikely to be a net win for the workers. The fast food industry typically runs fairly thin profit margins, and right now, they're in kind of a budget crunch as disposable income still hasn't really recovered from the recession. The dollar menu is seeing focus for a reason, and there just isn't latitude in most fast food place's budget for huge increases.

Given that unions also need dues to operate, it would take a healthy raise to compensate for their dues and provide additional benefit, and that just doesn't seem possible in the economic environment.

Angua wrote:You think minimum wage is being overpaid?

The US attitude to unions has always puzzled me somewhat - I get that they can go down the wrong road with being over political, but they are more likely to care about the workers than the company. Differences in culture history though.


In some cases yes, in some cases no. Not all fast food jobs are minimum wage....for instance, I live on the east coast, where minimum wage jobs are not particularly common because economic pressures drive a higher cost of living. In the more rural areas(like much of the midwest), though, where cost of living is lower, minimum wage jobs are pretty common...but the worse threat is unemployment. You've got stores and other businesses that just can't afford to stay open, even while paying minimum wage. Obviously, that's a problem.

Unions have been important in the past, but they are not always an obvious win for the employee. They have overhead costs to maintain, and thus, there's a range of possible employer/employee relationships that are more beneficial to both parties than one that also includes a union. Now, when a situation gets really out of control, then yeah, employees are greatly benefitted by forming a union. The problem with this case is that while fast food jobs do tend to suck, it's kind of innate due to many factors, and isn't as easily solved by simply introducing a union.

yurell wrote:$15/hr doesn't seem particularly unrealistic to me; I certainly wouldn't work for any less than that.


That's your decision, but not everyone has the skills to command a decent salary. They may not have a lot of options. If you're a high school dropout and lack job experience in much of anything, well...you still need an income, even if it's not a great one.

$15/hr is simply not reasonable for most food service jobs because at that price, the businesses would not be competitive. It's one thing to talk about doubling the price on the value menu, but honestly, McDonalds is not the pinnacle of burgers. If things cost twice as much there, I'm probably just not going to eat at McDonalds. Hell, fast food is very commonly patronized by the poor. So, if you double a guy's salary, but double his expenses, you really don't do him any favors. At best, nothing really changes, and at worst, the guy might find himself unemployed as the resteraunt appears less attractive compared to other options.

Fire Brns wrote:I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.


I actually disagree with this. We don't necessarily need people to mop the floors and flip burgers. We only pay people to do it because, right now, it's cheapest to do so. Robots already exist for these things. We don't need floor moppers and burger flippers...but they DO need a paycheck. It is not in their interest to try to change this. If we DID need them, then yes, mass action might improve their negotiating position, but that's really not the case.

Fire Brns wrote:The 33 y/old quoted irked me the most. The blue shirt does mean they are better than you, especially since you are 33 and working an entry level job in McDonalds. They are payed to be better than you and you are payed to be worse than them, that's how management works. You don't deserve anything more than what you contractually agreed to and you agreed to minimum wage plus any raises they decide to give you based on work performance. The economy sucks I get it, but you are just being selfish because you want more money without demonstrating a unique or valuable skill. It isn't some social crusade to help future generations.


I have some sympathy for people dealing with jerk bosses. That said, jerk bosses exist in basically every segment of society. Lots of human law and effort is dedicated to try to make people not be assholes, but a union probably won't stop people from acting like they are god's gift to humanity.

rieschen wrote:
company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later


It seems to me that if a company can't for the most part keep an employee from walking after a week, the problem here is not with the cost of training; it's with the company not offering an attractive job. McDonalds for example locks people down in Germany by offering them to finance a half-work half-study business degree if they qualify for university when they are hired, and are willing to commit to a long contract.


High turnover in crappy jobs is a good thing, actually. It tends to represent people finding better opportunities elsewhere. Unfortunately, the current US economy is still seeing workers reluctant to leave their jobs unless they get fired. Probably reflects uncertainty coming outta recession.

McDonalds actually does have some surprising educational opportunities and the like. Not every food service job does, though.

Princess Marzipan wrote:
I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.
So...a dollar menu is more important to you than millions of people being able to support themselves with their job?


If we're honest about it, it's more important to most people. Look at the number of ads describing how good/cheap something is. Look at the number of ads describing how well their workers are paid. Which gets the people in the door buying? People aren't only selfish, but there is a significant amount of "what's in it for me" in most people's lives.

Princess Marzipan wrote: What about people stuck in a career of mopping floors and flipping burgers?


Frankly, those people probably don't have the skills and opportunities to do anything better. That's unfortunate, and a good reason to strive for skills early in life, but if that's the best you can do...being unemployed represents a downgrade. Striking for an unacheivable reason raises your risk without much in the way of return.

Now, if the economy improves, it'll help everyone indirectly in that underemployed workers stop competing for crappy jobs, but this is out of the control of the average worker, so it's not very satisfying in that it provides no course of action to pursue.

Obviously, getting more skills is good, and should be pursued by those who can, but this may vary depending on situation.

Red Hal wrote:Y'see there's the nub of the issue. Raising the minimum wage won't make the barrier to entry higher; someone will still be needed to flip those burgers (nascent boom in automated burger-flipping notwithstanding) and mop those floors. The company either does it or doesn't produce burgers. There is a demand for burger-flippers because without them the company cannot sell burgers.


Automation aside, increasing cost of production obviously affects the supply/demand curves. Higher price, lower demand. Less production overall, so less jobs overall.

KnightExemplar wrote:This isn't raising the minimum wage. This is a group of workers striking in an effort to get better wages / benefits from a company that they're working for. I don't think there's anything wrong in that in of itself: people should strike and take advantage of their power to pressure employers when they feel that they're treated unfairly. So as bad as "minimum wage" is for capitalist markets, what is going on here is very far away from that. These are two parties trying to settle a dispute, which is good for the market.


Sure, they are within their rights to strike. It is not an immoral act...it is merely a case of poor strategy in this case. Sometimes, striking can be excellent strategy. It's all relative to how much freedom each side has to bargain with. In this case, the resteraunts don't really have a lot to give up, and the workers don't have a ton of leverage even unified. So...not much to be gained.

Enokh wrote:I don't see unions being any different than corporations. They're a bunch of people who got together and are selling something (their time/labor/whatever). Corporations hating on unions are just them getting jealous of someone else playing their game too.


Correct. Unions can be good or bad, just like corporations. They are in the business of controlling the labor market(well, a given union will usually try to control a specific kind of labor). There is, inherently, a cartel-like nature in unions that does not exist in all other corporations, but it certainly does arise in the larger, more successful corporations, so comparisons can still be made. Labor is a product like anything else.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Heisenberg » Fri May 17, 2013 7:55 pm UTC

rieschen wrote:
company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later


It seems to me that if a company can't for the most part keep an employee from walking after a week, the problem here is not with the cost of training; it's with the company not offering an attractive job. McDonalds for example locks people down in Germany by offering them to finance a half-work half-study business degree if they qualify for university when they are hired, and are willing to commit to a long contract.

Germany probably doesn't pay McDonald's $2,400 to "train" low-income workers. In America, fast food restaurants have an incentive to be so awful to their employees that they quit after around 10 weeks. One position can be worth 5 "training" tax credits if you're good about forcing your employees out.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby bluebambue » Fri May 17, 2013 8:19 pm UTC

Machines can already make burgers. It's only time before they become economical.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Fri May 17, 2013 8:23 pm UTC

I am so excited by this that I have no words.

Actually, that is not true, I have a lot of words. Why have I heard nothing of this until now?

I would love to get us striking here in the South as well, though I'd be ecstatic for a ten dollar wage.

I suspect that people like Fire Brns, who are more concerned with keeping their absurdly-cheap food absurdly-cheap, are part of the reason why our jobs are so shitty in the first place. Sure, our jobs usually involve dirtier and more disgusting duties...but it is the customers that break people at the end of the day.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby CorruptUser » Fri May 17, 2013 8:39 pm UTC

We had this argument last century, when tractors and combines pushed the people into towns and cities. Rather than create the steampunk dystopia of machines doing all the jobs, we as a society decided that with all this cheap labor we could have people specialize as police and firemen, we could put our kids in school instead of the field, we could teach then with educated workers, we could expand the judicial system to make it more fair, etc.

There is always more that can be done. We had some stuff in other threads about what a fair trial should be. Years ago we simply did not have the manpower to have trials beyond 'he look like he dun it', let alone forensics, but now we have the ability to do so. Why wouldn't we be able to spend all the manpower needed to do forensics even for petty crimes, so that virtually no innocent goes to jail? Why couldn't we have 1 teacher for every 8 kids, so that our education system really doesn't leave children behind? Why couldn't we have more nurses for our nursing homes? Why couldn't we have enough police so that no district has disgruntled and overworked cops? Why couldn't we custom design individual cars rather than produce virtually the same car several hundred thousand times?

Why couldn't we have just about anything tomorrow you can think if that requires too much labor to be 'cost effective' today via automation of industries?




Edit: Yes, it's the customers that ruin it. Some people seem to have nothing better to do than to make the guy behind the counter miserable. It's as if for some people they can't be happy unless they have the power to destroy someone else's day.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby yurell » Fri May 17, 2013 10:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:That's your decision, but not everyone has the skills to command a decent salary. They may not have a lot of options. If you're a high school dropout and lack job experience in much of anything, well...you still need an income, even if it's not a great one.

$15/hr is simply not reasonable for most food service jobs because at that price, the businesses would not be competitive. It's one thing to talk about doubling the price on the value menu, but honestly, McDonalds is not the pinnacle of burgers. If things cost twice as much there, I'm probably just not going to eat at McDonalds. Hell, fast food is very commonly patronized by the poor. So, if you double a guy's salary, but double his expenses, you really don't do him any favors. At best, nothing really changes, and at worst, the guy might find himself unemployed as the resteraunt appears less attractive compared to other options.


Perhaps you missed my other post, but it's not because I'm snooty — $15 is under the minimum wage here for a non-trainee adult, and is roughly at the minimum wage for a junior employee adult. And somehow Australia's economy didn't tank when we raised the minimum wage this high, nor where all the work-force entrants forced into exile. It's quite possible to raise the minimum wage, but the US seems to have a very 'fuck the poor' attitude, which is definitely reinforced when you look at the wealth distribution.

The absolute value of the lowest wage doesn't matter, what matters is how it relates to other wages; if the poorest 10% of people are being paid more, but everyone else's income stays the same, cost of living will not go up by as much as their pay does.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Fire Brns » Fri May 17, 2013 11:18 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:
I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.
So...a dollar menu is more important to you than millions of people being able to support themselves with their job?
Low costs so that the poor can afford to eat is important to me.

Angua wrote:You think minimum wage is being overpaid?
Minimum wage for an entry level job with absolutely no special skills required. Yes. Minimum wage is a stepping stone to the working world. Minimum wage is not intended to be a living wage; it is intended for part time jobs for teens still in high school, it is intended for unskilled labor, and it is not intended for career positions. Minimum wage however is ridiculously high enough in some areas that a company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later. Recently I got 150 bucks at 8 bucks an hour training for a job virtually anyone can do.
Wait, so which is it? Is it "SOMEbody has to mop the floors and flip the burgers," or is it "minimum wage is intended for unskilled non-career positions?" What about people stuck in a career of mopping floors and flipping burgers?
Somebody has to temporarily fill the non-career position. However people walk into places all the time thinking "in a few months I'm going to run this place" with no reason to think that and when they don't get the undeserved recognition they desire they get indignant and complain.

I have expenses, bills, and I'm saving for college I have no money. I understand the being in a crapsack position with no recognition. Unlike the striking people however, I was grateful for the job in this economic climate rather than complain that I'm a special snowflake that doesn't get enough throwaway money.
Just because you were grateful for and willing to settle for a shitty job, that is not a justification for telling other people that their job needs to stay shitty.
They settled for a shitty job when they took it. Now they are just deciding to resort to flat out extortion to get more money than they agreed to.

The 33 y/old quoted irked me the most. The blue shirt does mean they are better than you, especially since you are 33 and working an entry level job in McDonalds. They are payed to be better than you and you are payed to be worse than them, that's how management works.

That's...no, that's NOT how management works. Management works by managers inspiring their team to get the best work possible out of them, and meet this or that goal. Management is paid to lead, not to be better than. Show me a manager who gets their way by being a hardass 100% of the time, and I'll show you a *terrible manager.*
A manager gets paid to inspire the "team" to work nonetheless and is therefore being paid for a unique skill and is therefore better than the entry level employee. The link only said punitive management, it never said crappy manager. A manager needs to maintain a semblance of authority to run an efficient shift and that comes off as mean sometimes but it isn't crappy management.

You don't deserve anything more than what you contractually agreed to and you agreed to minimum wage plus any raises they decide to give you based on work performance. The economy sucks I get it, but you are just being selfish because you want more money without demonstrating a unique or valuable skill. It isn't some social crusade to help future generations.
Of course it's selfish. They want their own circumstances improved. I fail to see how this any more or less selfish, however, than your steadfast insistence upon $1 shitty burgers.
They're on a crusade because they know how shitty the jobs are and they want a fighting chance at life for themselves *and* their current and future colleagues. You're a crusade for $1 savings paid for by sore feet, greased-up pores, and bruised souls. Who's the selfish one here? (It's you.)
I complained because she said it was to help her generation out. She doesn't want to help other people, that is just the crap people say when they get interviewed by reporters.

yurell wrote:The absolute value of the lowest wage doesn't matter, what matters is how it relates to other wages; if the poorest 10% of people are being paid more, but everyone else's income stays the same, cost of living will not go up by as much as their pay does.
The problem is that this doesn't always happen. Food service, being ubiquitous in society, the necessary price increases following wage increases will put additional stress on other workers and they will require wage increases. It can have a domino effect and result in the entire area having both wage and price increases ultimately only resulting in inflation and an area with above average prices compared to the surrounding areas which will stifle economic interaction between the areas.

edit:
rieschen wrote:
company can have to drop 300 dollars into training an employee and then hope they don't quit a week later


It seems to me that if a company can't for the most part keep an employee from walking after a week, the problem here is not with the cost of training; it's with the company not offering an attractive job.
Or the people who get a call back from the first place they applied to and give the old "so long and thanks for all the fish" to their plan B who decided to take them in. Or the people who suddenly decide they are going to move to X and become a Y. There is more than explanation besides the job being crappy for an employee leaving.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby cphite » Fri May 17, 2013 11:38 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:
I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.
So...a dollar menu is more important to you than millions of people being able to support themselves with their job?


The main reason McDonald's does so much business is that they can sell crappy food for a buck. If their prices go up, they lose a lot of the customers who were going there mainly because it's cheap - which is a pretty sizable percentage of their customers. As they lose customers and sell less product, they need less work hours from employees - which ultimately leads to keeping less employees on the payroll.

So the question is, would you rather make $8/hr or nothing at all? Because that's what is going to happen if you force these places to effectively double their wages. As soon as you double the rate for the guy flipping burgers, his manager is going to want a raise too. As costs go up, businesses will do what they can to cut costs - and the most obvious place to do that is payroll.

Sorry, but the reality is that the reason many of those jobs even exist is quite simply because they pay so little.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Fri May 17, 2013 11:48 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:They settled for a shitty job when they took it. Now they are just deciding to resort to flat out extortion to get more money than they agreed to.

The next time you go into a fast food restaurant, take note of how many teenagers you see. At my store you will see one; everybody else is in their mid-to-late twenties. Is this because so many people are "settling" for shitty jobs, or because there are no other jobs? I weas hired by a fast food restaurant after five months of unemployment (amusingly, my first day was the weekend immediately preceding my return to university after having left four years earlier...and five months after I submitted the application). It was the ONLY callback I received. Is it still settling if there is nothing else?

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby yurell » Fri May 17, 2013 11:50 pm UTC

cphite wrote:The main reason McDonald's does so much business is that they can sell crappy food for a buck. If their prices go up, they lose a lot of the customers who were going there mainly because it's cheap - which is a pretty sizable percentage of their customers. As they lose customers and sell less product, they need less work hours from employees - which ultimately leads to keeping less employees on the payroll.


Hey look, a testable claim! Did this happen in all other countries when they raised their minimum wage? Does it still happen in countries where the minimum wage is higher (e.g. Australia)?
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby sardia » Fri May 17, 2013 11:51 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
Princess Marzipan wrote:
I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.
So...a dollar menu is more important to you than millions of people being able to support themselves with their job?


The main reason McDonald's does so much business is that they can sell crappy food for a buck. If their prices go up, they lose a lot of the customers who were going there mainly because it's cheap - which is a pretty sizable percentage of their customers. As they lose customers and sell less product, they need less work hours from employees - which ultimately leads to keeping less employees on the payroll.

So the question is, would you rather make $8/hr or nothing at all? Because that's what is going to happen if you force these places to effectively double their wages. As soon as you double the rate for the guy flipping burgers, his manager is going to want a raise too. As costs go up, businesses will do what they can to cut costs - and the most obvious place to do that is payroll.

Sorry, but the reality is that the reason many of those jobs even exist is quite simply because they pay so little.

So many assertions, so few citations. For example, what percentage is labor in the cost of a burger. Or what's percentage of a product is labor costs if you ship it from overseas? You don't know any of that. Rather, you just made up a chain of things that sound right.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Thesh » Sat May 18, 2013 12:16 am UTC

I see it funny how one person can see people eating less fast food as a bad thing, while I see it as a good thing. As for jobs, well if wages go up and it causes less people to go to fast food, it will likely result in more people eating in sit down restaurants as well which will mean an offset to fast food jobs. To me "What about all these McDonald's jobs?" is not a valid reason to not raise minimum wage to a livable income.

As for automation killing jobs, it does kill jobs. However, we have been able to offset it by creating new jobs as we improve technology and increase consumption. The argument that because it hasn't happened yet then it will never happen is fallacious. When automation can replace fast food workers, push carts, stock shelves, and drive cars and trucks for cheaper than the cost of a human, then unemployment will skyrocket. This is why we need a livable basic income, and why we need our economy to not rely so heavily on everyone having jobs.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby CorruptUser » Sat May 18, 2013 12:30 am UTC

Thesh wrote:As for automation killing jobs, it does kill jobs. However, we have been able to offset it by creating new jobs as we improve technology and increase consumption. The argument that because it hasn't happened yet then it will never happen is fallacious. When automation can replace fast food workers, push carts, stock shelves, and drive cars and trucks for cheaper than the cost of a human, then unemployment will skyrocket. This is why we need a livable basic income, and why we need our economy to not rely so heavily on everyone having jobs.


Jobs are not some precious gem you mine out of a ground. There will never be a shortage of things for people to do. We need more teachers, more forensic investigators, more nurses, more doctors, more artists, more engineers, more lab assistants, hell, more hookers and test subjects. Part of the role of government is to help smooth the transition to the 'jobs of the future', not to cling to the shitjobs of the past. Massive unemployment is not a failure of science, but a failure of government.

Oh, and it is entirely possible under specific conditions for a higher minimum wage to raise employment rates. It's one of the weirder things in economics, like how in special circumstances raising the price of inferior goods can increase demand for them.

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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby Thesh » Sat May 18, 2013 12:41 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:There will never be a shortage of things for people to do.


That's a pretty bold claim, and I really don't see how that is going to be the case when people are no longer required for menial tasks. There will always be jobs, but I just can't see how there will always be jobs for everyone.
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Re: US Fast Food Strikes

Postby cphite » Sat May 18, 2013 1:04 am UTC

sardia wrote:
cphite wrote:
Princess Marzipan wrote:
I really don't have sympathy. What Derek said. The dollar menu becomes the 2 dollar menu when they pull this crap and if the fast food workers where I live tried to strike I would picket them for inconveniencing me. Not everyone gets to be a Hollywood movie American success, some people have to mop the floors and flip the burgers.
So...a dollar menu is more important to you than millions of people being able to support themselves with their job?


The main reason McDonald's does so much business is that they can sell crappy food for a buck. If their prices go up, they lose a lot of the customers who were going there mainly because it's cheap - which is a pretty sizable percentage of their customers. As they lose customers and sell less product, they need less work hours from employees - which ultimately leads to keeping less employees on the payroll.

So the question is, would you rather make $8/hr or nothing at all? Because that's what is going to happen if you force these places to effectively double their wages. As soon as you double the rate for the guy flipping burgers, his manager is going to want a raise too. As costs go up, businesses will do what they can to cut costs - and the most obvious place to do that is payroll.

Sorry, but the reality is that the reason many of those jobs even exist is quite simply because they pay so little.

So many assertions, so few citations. For example, what percentage is labor in the cost of a burger. Or what's percentage of a product is labor costs if you ship it from overseas? You don't know any of that. Rather, you just made up a chain of things that sound right.


The average profit margin for a fast food restaurant is around 8% or so - the really good ones might see 15%. There is simply no way that they are going to double their payroll costs and not raise prices accordingly. All of your made up questions that sound right (to you) aside, you are failing to grasp simple economics.


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